1) California faces projected budget deficits of close to $20 billion annually for the next several years. What specific steps must the state take to achieve a balanced budget?
We must be realistic on several fronts.
Much of the state’s tax receipts are restricted due to a multitude of special interest legislative impacts to the budget (public employee pensions, education, bond repayment, etc.). There is very little left of every dollar the state takes in after the mandated spending is funded.
Additionally, the state budget is created with generous predictions of future revenue.
No one knows what the future will bring, especially these lawmakers. Our tax revenue should be projected on the conservative side with expenses allocated accordingly.
In the short term, we should not institute new spending programs that are not absolutely critical, pare existing non-essential programs and review all regulatory burdens that impede business growth.
Long term solutions should include top to bottom review of all commissions, boards and agencies to eliminate duplication and inefficiency; freeze new hires for non-essential personnel until positions have been thoroughly evaluated for need; no new programs should be implemented until a consistent revenue stream has been identified to pay for programs; begin the budgeting process earlier in the fiscal year; create a reserve fund to smooth out uneven tax receipt years.